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The Haunted Bookshop


Published July 6, 2008


Librivox recording of The Haunted Bookshop by Christopher Morley.
Read by J. M. Smallheer.

Roger Mifflin is the somewhat eccentric proprietor of The Haunted Bookshop, a second-hand bookstore in Brooklyn that is "haunted by the ghosts of all great literature." Beginning with the arrival of a young advertising man and the mysterious disappearance of a certain volume from the shelves of the bookshop, a lively and often humorous tale of intrigue unfolds, generously sprinkled with liberal doses of Roger's unique philosophy on literature and book selling. (Summary by J. M. Smallheer)

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Download M4B (153MB)


Date 2008-07-06
Source Librivox recording of a public-domain text
Run time 5:34:28


Reviews

Reviewer: sarahm - - October 25, 2014
Subject: I Loved This Novel!
There was a time, not so long ago, when we routinely haunted second-hand bookstores on Saturday afternoons. I can even remember dusty stores that smelled of cigar or pipe smoke. All of that is gone now. None of those bookstores that we used to haunt are still in business. Our shrine to those better times are our overstuffed living room bookshelves.

Anyway, this novel is a gift to the book lover. The plot about German bad guys seemed unnecessary to me. I wanted to spend more evenings at the bookstore.

Even before finishing this novel I downloaded Parnassus on Wheels. I enjoyed that one too, but The Haunted Bookstore really spoke to me.

Very well read as well.
Reviewer: tehipite - - October 21, 2014
Subject: timeless
Ω The Haunted Bookshop is not a spooky story. It is a timeless story from the wake of the Great War, given a comfortable treatment by J. M. Smallheer. It is a tale for booklovers who long for the days when one could peruse well-used books in incandescent light, without annoying "music" competing for the attention.
There are sub-plots of romance and danger for the less-thoughtful readers. The narrative gave me authors and books to check out.
I gave it ⭐⭐⭐⭐ only for the same reason that I think our society is too ready to give standing ovations to any mediocre guitar band. This is not Shakespeare. It is just a pleasant book to curl up with next to the fireplace. Have some perspective. Just because it is a good story doesn't mean it should get the highest rating.
Reviewer: hear&Now - - September 6, 2012
Subject: A bookshop with mystery, intrigue, romance
A lighthearted mystery for booklovers; well read.
Reviewer: oldperson - - October 23, 2011
Subject: The Haunted Bookshop
It was enjoyable and for the period from which it was composed, I can overlook the faults that some reviewers have mentioned.
Reviewer: Timothy Ferguson - - October 18, 2011
Subject: You must be a lover of books, in general, to love this book, in particular.
This book has a plot on which the author hangs his erudition about other great books. You need to go into this willing to be pleased as he gives shout-outs to various obscure books, which were obscure enough at the time of writing that he wanted to give them a bit of a prod along in the public conciousness. You need to love the sort of weirdoes that hang out in the book trade. You need to accept that the author is a bit of a pervert in his treatment of his young heroine (he describes how you'd stalk her on the street so that you could stare at her, which a lot of the male characters seem to do, driven by almost magnetc forces beyond their control.) If you can move past all that, it's a really pleasant listen, and the read of it is just excellent. Its one of the best LV books I've listened to, although I work with books, so, perhaps I'm its core audience.
Reviewer: ListeninginChicago - - February 16, 2010
Subject: It's about the books
I agree more with Xbeza than Doinker. It's a fun read just because of the commentary on the books - the plot seems secondary, although it's nice to spend the second half chasing around after German plotters. J.M. Smallheer does an excellent job of reading - even the long passages where Roger discourses about good (and bad) literature are full of life and interest.

But you can decide for yourself (with a bit of help from the author). Here's the introduction (from the Project Gutenberg Ebook):

"TO THE BOOKSELLERS

Be pleased to know, most worthy, that this little book is dedicated to you in affection and respect.

The faults of the composition are plain to you all. I begin merely in the hope of saying something further of the adventures of ROGER MIFFLIN, whose exploits in "Parnassus on Wheels" some of you have been kind enough to applaud. But then came Miss Titania Chapman, and my young advertising man fell in love with her, and the two of them rather ran away with the tale.

I think I should explain that the passage in Chapter VIII, dealing with the delightful talent of Mr. Sidney Drew, was written before the lamented death of that charming artist. But as it was a sincere tribute, sincerely meant, I have seen no reason for removing it.

. . .

Now that Roger is to have ten Parnassuses on the road, I am emboldened to think that some of you may encounter them on their travels. And if you do, I hope you will find that these new errants of the Parnassus on Wheels Corporation are living up to the ancient and honourable traditions of our noble profession.

CHRISTOPHER MORLEY.

Philadelphia,
April 28, 1919"
Reviewer: Doinker - - November 10, 2008
Subject: Just okay
This is a rather long-winded story that takes over half the read to(slowly)kick into gear. It's also very heavy-handed, which may not have been a problem when it was written, but certainly is now. What is of interest are the scores of other actual books mentioned along the way. The listener is actually drawn to them more than the story at hand.

The timing of this novel is set and was written right before the Versailles accord of 1919, which set the wheels of Nazi Germany into motion. Morley treats the residents of his book more like chess pieces than like human beings. Rather than endowing them with grand speeches and long soliloquies about other authors, it would have been nice had the characterization and story background been flushed out a bit more. We never really learn much about the characters in this book - the protagonists and villains seem cut out of a single piece of cardboard. They say or do their piece, then they go away.

Still, if you have many hours to while away, it's an okay way to pass the time.
Reviewer: xbeza - - July 9, 2008
Subject: First chapters a must-hear for bibliophiles
After the funny, educational and rather lengthy exposition (where the author suggests you to skip half a chapter) there comes a cute detective and love story. Notable is the anti-german accent, as the story plays after the World War I. The voice acting is done very well.
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